Posts Tagged ‘reading’

Monday, 11 March 2019

At last, after being on the waiting list since November, we were able to get part one of our two part Shingrix vaccinations. We had intended to languish about at home after the anti-shingles jabs, until the pharmacist said that we would have less pain if we kept our arms moving. So we went to work trimming santolinas at the port. Using The Toy made the job so fast that we got from the east end to Time Enough Books in just two hours. Amazing. Rain and wind arrived on schedule and drove us home with the west port gardens and the boatyard garden still to do.

Allan’s photos:

Some of the santolinas in this end have gotten too woody to cut back hard.

We transplanted some uppy red grasses to the fire station garden.

At home, I added santolina clippings to the compost and potted some chives for my plant sale. Allan shredded some of the debris from yesterday in The Pencil Sharpener.

The pampas grass did not shred well and will get hand chopped later.

Earlier today, before the jabs, I had taken some photos of our floriferous garden. I managed to accidentally get this post in reverse chronological order, too hard to fix on my iPad, so here are the morning photos. I really must stop blogging from my lazy chair and must start using my new camera instead of my phone. Soon, as I keep promising.

The front garden:

Poor Melianthus major got cold.

Iris unguicularis aka stylosa.

Ribes speciosum about to flower. It is summer deciduous so looks at its best now.

East side garden:

I keep forgetting to trim this epimedium so that the flowers will show.

Back garden:

The rain gauge had ice on it the first time I went outdoors today.

Sweet pea did not make it through this last set of freezing nights.

Corylopsis pauciflora

I must come up with a feature for the very back corner of the Bogsy Wood. I have some ideas.

Tomorrow should be a good day to languish because of wind and rain.

I am almost sorry to say that I found a source for Monty and Sarah Don’s old gardening show, Fork to Fork, AND a new to me show called The A to Z of TV Gardening…pronounced Zed, because it is British tv with excerpts from all sorts of shows featuring many of my favourites British telly gardeners.

My stack of books to read is dwindling terribly slowly, although I just finished a great one that I must recommend.

Her thoughts about medical testing were of great interest to me. I share her feelings about going to the doctor…even though I know of people who have been saved by medical tests.

I could personally relate to the problems of reduced attention span brought on by social media.

……and so on.

My favourite chapter was about the pressure to exercise and diet in order to grow very old (even though many successful exercisers have died far too young).

I was especially amused when I later read a yoga instructor’s self-described “rant” on social media about how his clients must find “satisfaction in the sacrifice” even though it’s “no fun”. I thought yoga was supposed to be soothing and perhaps prevent the urge to rant?

I appreciate that, as always, this author of Nickel and Dimed addresses the classism of health advice.

Finally, the author ponders death itself and shared a poem that speaks exactly to some thoughts I have been having about appreciating that life will eventually go on without me, with frogs in the pond and flowers blooming just as pleasantly without me around to enjoy them. Here it is:

 When in my white room at the Charité

I woke towards morning

And heard the blackbird, I understood

Better. Already for some time

I had lost all fear of death. For nothing

Can be wrong with me if I myself

Am nothing. Now

I managed to enjoy

The song of every blackbird after me too.

**Bertolt Brecht

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Thursday, 14 February 2019

When I looked out of my window this morning, I had the sudden urge to expand the east side of the small pond into a narrow garden bed. Only cold weather and all day rain stopped me. I managed only to get out for long enough to transplant a few small grasses to soften one corner.


Then my hands were too cold and I retreated. Allan went hunting and gathering for groceries over the river while I watched many the episode of Love Your Garden.

I had to tear myself away from gardening shows to finish an excellent book by Dominick Tyler that is almost overdue.

I recommend it to any Britophile or lover of the natural landscape.

I know at least one reader might be interested in this passage about hair ice.

Each short essay is based on a word or phrase describing anything from ice to mud to the habits of birds and fish and is faced with a full page photograph.

Some more of my favourites:

I had no idea that the bumblebee was originally a humblebee.


Below are all sorts of wonderful names for what I have heard called sun showers.

Saltings is the perfect name for the mudflats around our Willapa Bay.

Clart is exactly the quality of mud in our old garden and our former gardening job at Discovery Heights.

I now have added several books to my list of must reads, all of which are likely to increase my feeling that I was born in the wrong country. Here is the entire bibliography.

Locals can check the book out of the Timberland Library system.

The problem is, as another friend commented, I might as well make end tables out of my piles of books to read because I cannot stop watching British gardening shows.

Even though we don’t celebrate Valentines Day, Allan brought a pleasing treat home from his excursion. I told him that I must get a pug dog to go with it.

He described the huddle of anxious looking men huddled over the card section in Fred Meyer, a phenomenon that he used to witness annually when he worked at assorted such stores as a bicycle and exercise equipment and furniture assembler.

Tomorrow, brief sun, perhaps the monkey’s wedding variety, may return and allow some more ponding.

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Friday, 1 February 2019

We had a day of chilly rain, which meant a wonderful binge of Gardeners’ World 2018 on BritBox. I am watching on my iPad and making many screenshots and notes.

Allan filled the jugs so that we will have more rain water for filling our pond after the liner comes.

He went to the library and found this hellebore being admired by patrons.

He also had a look where a handsome sailboat had sunk down at the port, we know not why.

Here it is the summer before last:

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Surprisingly good weather meant I had to tear myself away from Gardeners’ World and turn and sift a bin and a half of compost.

rain in the pond hole

bin three

my audience

You can hear the crows in a short video, here.

I got halfway through sifting bin four before near dusk.  All the siftings went into the garden beds where I had added sand.

After my compost frenzy, I picked some flowers for Jenna’s sneak peek Mermaid Sandcastle party.

We attended the party for of all of fifteen minutes but did bring the bouquet and chocolate chip cookies made by Allan.  (I have to confess, I was anxious to have time in the  evening to watch Gardeners’ World.)


The cute house behind the giant fry pan.

Jenna’s photo

The hellebores might be wilted by tomorrow, but the other parts of the bouquet will stay for awhile.

I was amazed at how Jenna had pulled the house together since we had been there eight days before.



and more treats

Jenna’s spouse, Don, doing caricatures.

Jenna and one of her mermaids

Sunday, 3 February 2019

I am pleased to report that Sunday was cold enough to be an all Gardeners’ World day for me.  I also finished this supremely enjoyable book.


I’d like to see those surveys. I am skeptical that gardening leads to longevity. I know of too many wonderful gardeners who have died before 70, even before 60, of cancer and ALS.

I rather share the author’s thoughts about death:

I, on the ….

I remember clearly my moment of realizing I was going to die someday. I knew it, of course, but late one night, as a teenager staying overnight at my grandma’s house, the realization struck me that someday I will just not be here at all. I’d never given it much thought before that moment. I can still remember the way the dark polished wooden headboard gleamed in the lamplight as I noticed my blurred reflection.

Even if gardening won’t let us all live to 100, the happiness and interest that it brings to life make it a worthwhile pursuit anyway.


Before bedtime on Sunday night, Allan looked out the window and saw an unusual sight which he proceeded to photograph in an unearthly white glow at midnight.

the water boxes




Compost bins


Frosty on the front porch

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January 2019 reading

January 2019,  end of staycation reading 

Here are just some (about half) of the books of January with takeaways that I liked.

I continued with Jane Casey’s mysteries.

Takeaway: why I moved to the beach.

(I wouldn’t be sick of rain.)

Another memoir by Vivian Gornick, via Interlibrary Loan:


embracing feminism in the 70s:

(I have, but not with the same intensity of joy and camaraderie.)

Perfect description of the kind of beach house I like:

Maybe Vivian knows why a friendship in which I had confidence but was often walking on eggshells did not work after all; my friend of forty years, Carol, once wisely warned me that if you become friends with someone angry or explosive, eventually that anger will turn on you:


Meanwhile, this…from Two Years, Eight Months, and Twenty-Eight Nights, a Salman Rushdie book that Allan was reading:

The garden belonged to the gardener.”

In another Jane Casey mystery, a subplot of a woman who’d had to move from a small rundown cottage into a London tower block, thus losing her community of neighbours, had me in tears.  It brilliantly reminded me of the history of post WWII England, by David Kynaston, in which so many people were ousted from their communities and put into tower blocks.

She remembers her garden…



I heartily recommend this funny and informative book about Scandinavia:

Everything about it is so entertaining that I can’t select any separate takeaways.

I became completely smitten with Novella Carpenter and want to be her friend and neighbour.  I’d move to Oakland to be her neighborhood! I followed this gardening memoir with Gone Feral, her memoir about her father.

I read this because I had recently liked the film:

I somehow happened upon this quite wonderful novel about baking and farmers markets:

The kind of house I like:

Some advice:

It’s set in San Francisco:

I must read his other book.

A memoir/advice book written in a breezy, conversational style might be informative to someone who does not want to read anything as serious as Body of Truth by Harriet Brown or The Obesity Myth by Paul Campos

This helped me with my thoughts about someone with whom I expected to share old age …till the diet and fat-denigrating talk (“____ looks like shit since gaining weight”) began to predominate. My attempts to divert to a neutral topic were to no avail.

It is not easy (for me) to tell the difference between seasonal and long term people. I fall easily for anyone who gets mushy and sentimental at the beginning of a friendship. And I may not have enough  years left to figure this out.

My biggest takeaway is this:

I told you the book is breezy and conversational, and the author swears so much that even I thought she went over the top in that regard.  However, it was just what I needed to read as I go into a new year, after a 2018 that was, socially, shockingly bad in some ways.  Do I have to screen skinny new friends to see if they are fat bashers or do I just wait for them to spring it on me, after I have emotionally invested precious time and love?  I hope I won’t get ambushed, if there is a next time.

Walking on into 2019, I am still carrying the burden of 2018’s disappointment and increased social mis-fitting. Fortunately, I cherish solitude so intensely that I have welcomed having even more of it this winter.

I wrote, rewrote, then severely edited and almost deleted all of this personal revelation. I reminded myself that the books I like best are memoirs in which the author reveals flaws and heartaches. May Sarton, Vivian Gornick, Nella Last….. And personal revelation is why The Miserable Gardener, Bob Nold’s blog, is in my top two of blog reading.

If I bury the personal in posts about reading, non readers won’t delve deep enough to find it. But the thoughtful people who like that sort of thing will.

January reading drew to a close (except for bedtime chapters) when I subscribed to two channels that allowed me to easily watch three seasons of Gardeners’ World. Inside Outside TV) offers Big Dreams Small Spaces and a plethora of Alan Titchmarsh shows.  So the rest of January’s rainy days and early evenings were this:






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Here are some takeaways from just some of the books I read in December.

Smoky was my familiar!

Language Arts

I do wish the library would be more careful with their stickers.  The author wrote one of my favourite novels ever, Broken For You.  I liked seeing the memoirist, Doris Grumbach, mentioned in the acknowledgments.  I would like to reread Doris’s memoirs.

The first couple of chapters inspired me to give the book a high rating. It is grim, so you might want to skip on to the next book.


Oh dear.  (I do wonder what enlightened parents and grandparents of the newest generation think about the future.)  The author proposes no solutions.

…an utterly fascinating history book by one of my favourites.  (I adore her memoir, Waiting for My Cats to Die.)  In a telly show I recently was struck by the cheerful looking red aerial tramway in New York—turns out it comes from the former “Damnation Island”.

I am one of the lucky ones who can “do what I love” for work, partly from a willingness to be what most of the people I know would consider poor.


On the generational economic impact of racism:


(This is covered in depth in the book Waking Up White.)


Makes me even more determined to represent real working class life.

still more serious reading

I also burned through a most exciting mysteries, the Maeve Kerrigan series by Jane Casey and all of Belinda Bauer’s mysteries.  Both had been recommended to me as worthy successors of Ruth Rendell.  Bauer is the most like Rendell, and one of hers was the best psychological suspense that I had read since Ruth died.

I read Ketzel Levine’s Plant This—actually a reread because I had read them all when they were columns in the Oregonian.

I realized that the reason I have so many of the plants she writes about it because, through those Oregonian columns, she inspired me to buy them.

Sometime before the end of January, I hope to do the overview of the complete year of reading.

Skooter helped with this post.

After tomorrow morning’s post, I’ll be returning to reading, garden puttering and Gardeners’ World for another two or three weeks.   I also must visit an ear specialist over an hour and a half away—a road trip being just about the last thing I want to do on staycation. I have accomplished nothing of my winter house projects nor have I acquired and spread yards of mulch in the garden. (Weather and the potting project have gotten in the way.)  I still hope to do some of that in the last three weeks of staycation…even though it is seeming more and more unlikely.



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Tuesday, 4 December 2018

My breakfast audience:

Acanthus ‘Hollard’s Gold’ has emerged again.

Allan has finished the roof of the greenhouse lean to.

Skooter’s day included a trip to the roof…

….and a sojourn in the sink.

He was a perfect round ball till he heard the camera.

Allan ran errands and covered the gunnera in Long Beach with leaves from our gunnera.



I spent the afternoon weeding.  Because of the rain forecast, I have this week to prepare to get mulch for the garden and then will have to wait for another five day dry spell to be predicted, and hope that mulch (and good health) is available during that time.

I then read an excellent memoir.  I wish I could remember if someone recommended it to me.  If so, thank you.

I adore Vivian Gornick’s honesty and now, of course, I intend to read all her books (through interlibrary loan).

Here are some of my favourite bits.

Regarding her and her closest friend, Leonard:








in which the title is explained:

I hope her next books do not take long to arrive.

Skooter being a neck cat instead of a lap cat.


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It is December 11th.  I had no intention of blogging, until suddenly needing to boot up my computer to add the new manager of Klipsan Beach Cottages to the KBC Facebook page….and de administrate myself. It felt odd and poignant to let go of a page I created and have administered and for which I have done all the photos since…2009.  I gardened there for over 20 years.  Soon we will be visiting former managers Mary and Denny in their new home.

Since I booted up, I might as write and schedule a few blog posts before I retreat back into my blogging break.  We began December with a streak of almost summer-like weather.

December 2nd is an already forgotten day…weeding? reading? weather? I have no idea…with no photos other than this one of Skooter in the very late morning:

Monday, 3 December 2018

We had had some rain.  Perhaps this photo tells us that Sunday was a reading day. My Sony camera sometimes does not open all the way, annoying if I don’t see that I need to push it open manually.  (The Lumix thoroughly plotzed with a “system error zoom”, after less than a year, as usual.)

yellow rain gauge, halfway full

The water boxes are full again.

summer-planted extra sweet pea seeds, grew into lots of foliage and an occasional soggy flower.

Helichrysum and bacopa still lush and happy

I spent most of the afternoon digging Ficaria verna (Ranunculus ficaria) from the east fire circle bed.  It runs like crazy through the garden.

Ficaria verna today

It tries to leave as many little brown root nodules behind as possible, which is why this is a battle where the human will not prevail.

At least I can slow it down.

The plain old creeping buttercup, also shown above, is much easier to remove.

In other garden news, I am working on widening the East Willow Loop path, which has become so narrow in summer that is had ceased to be part of the garden tour here.

opened up

At the end, to the left, was the encroaching ficaria patch.

center bed and Rozanne Loop path

I covered my gunnera with its own leaves to protect it from frost….

…and put a few leaves in the van to go to the gunnera in Long Beach.

Fortunately, the short daylight hours give plenty of time for reading in the late afternoon and evening.  I cannot remember who recommended that I read Radio Free Vermont.  Thank you, I loved it.

This is also how we feel on the Long Beach Peninsula:

For comparison, Ilwaco has under 1000 residents.  It might be growing, but it is growing slowly.


This is so true when moving to a small town:



I have read of town meetings elsewhere, possibly in Maine, in the memoirs of Doris Grumbach (whose books I highly recommend).

Radio Free Vermont is not all talk; it has adventure, suspense, and a ski chase, so give it a try.





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